Thursday, January 26, 2012

How to enhance your creativity?

Creativity is the product of creative thinking
A general notion is that creativity is the phenomenon whereby a person creates something new that is outstanding and that has some kind of value. In my view creativity is the product of creative thinking, a mental faculty which every person is endowed with.
Two types of thinking – directed and undirected
Creative thinking is otherwise called undirected thinking. Normally one is instructed to use directed thinking which is goal oriented and rational. Such thinking requires a clear, well defined goal. One must then find a path that leads to the goal, with the aim of doing so as directly as possible. In general, directed thinking avoids wandering aimlessly, exploring odd options, and looking for creative solutions. Just such aimless wandering might be necessary to arrive at highly novel solutions. This type of meandering thought is called undirected thinking. Sigmund Freud who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis identified dreaming and day dreaming as forms of undirected thoughts that are not trammeled by the ordinary constrains of reality. Undirected thinking takes us to destinations that are sometimes murky and sometimes insightful. It plays an important role in creativity and in the solutions to problems that are poorly defined.
Creative thinking and globalization
According to the noted psychologist Mark A.Runco,Psychology Department, California State University, creativity has recently started to receive the attention it deserves by researchers in cognitive psychology because of the fast and complex changes such as globalization and technology advancements, which characterize the environment in which we live and operate.
Productive thinking and reproductive thinking
The Gestalt psychologists of Germany during the early twentieth century distinguished between reproductive and productive thinking.  Reproductive thinking entails the application of tried-and-proved true paths to the solution of a problem.  The thinker reproduces a series of steps that are known to yield a workable answer by using long term memory. Productive thinking, on the other hand, requires insight and creativity.  In view of the Gestalt psychologists, the thinker must see a new way of organizing the problem, that is, a new way of structuring the elements of thought and perception.
Trial-and-error vs. insight
Thorndike's puzzle box
Kohler's experiment
In psychological experiments on learning the animals use trial-and-error method of problem solving. Trial and error can be regarded as one form of reproductive thinking. Edward LeeThorndike was a pioneer in the experiments on leaning of animals using puzzle boxes. On being placed in the box, a cat pawed randomly about the box, obviously irritated by the confinement. Once it discovered the escape lever, the cat learns to associate the lever with a way to escape. That means the cat learns by trial and error method. Wolfgang Kohler, a Gestalt psychologist, designed a problems such as the following: a chimpanzee  is in a large cage along with several crates. Hanging from the top of the cage, out of reach, is a banana. Kohler reported that in this setting the chimpanzee would appear to be lost in thought, and then suddenly the proverbial light bulb of insight would flash. The animal would then move the crates under the bananas, stacking them to form a ladder to reach the food. In another problem a chimpanzee insightfully learned to join together two sticks in order to reach a banana lying outside the cage. The chimpanzee produces a new way to solve the problem out of productive thinking. This is the phenomenon of creativity.
Application of creativity
Writing, musical composition, architectural design, computer programming, engineering design, painting, and sculpting are just a few examples of tasks that call from creativity.
Historical versus personal creativity
Historical refers to ideas that are novel within the context of the whole of human history. The creator produces a product—some visible symbol that embodies his or her idea—that may be judged by others.  Consider the works of art or equations of physical theory. The Sistine chapel, the Mona Lisa, the laws of thermodynamics, and the general and special theories of relativity are products that plainly creative in the historical or product sense. Cognitive psychologist John R Hayes in his noted book The Complete Problem Solver argued that three criteria must be met before a product of the human mind ought to be regarded as creative.
 First, it must be novel or unique. Certainly, this is implicit in our everyday discussions of creative acts as well as in the distinction we encountered earlier between reproductive thinking, on the one hand, and productive, insightful creative thinking, on the other. 
Second a product must be judged as useful in some context. Here, many artists, inventors, scientists, and philosophers have lost in their ideas for fame. Their creation may have been novel but were utterly useless. Only when a product somehow connects with the pasts or find it niche in a cultural context does it stand a chance of being regarded as creative. This may take time—more time than the creators have. Some have been acclaimed as creative in the historical sense only after their deaths.
Third, the products must have demanded some special ability or talent on the part of their creators Hayes’s criteria of novelty, usefulness, and talent give very different answers to the question what is creative, depending on one’s cultural point of view.

Stages of creativity

The early twentieth-century reformer Graham Walls got somewhat nearer the source of the creative process, which he outlines in his book, The Art of Thought. Summarizing his own and other people's work in this area, Wallas described four stages of creation.
1. Preparation. The person expecting to gain new insights must know his field of study and be well prepared. This seems to fit what we have experienced 0 people get inventive ideas mainly in their own fields - poets in poetry; scientists, in science.
2. Incubation - Wallas noticed many great ideas came only a period of time spent away from the problem. This was certainly the experience of Archimedes when he got his idea in the public bath. Many ideas come to us when we are away from the problem, usually after actively engaging with the problem.
3. Illumination. This is the "click" or "flash" of a new idea. It's a mysterious phase. Resting the mind by doing other activities was the only suggestion Wallas could offer about how creative ideas form.
4. Verification. In this final step, efforts are made to see if the "happy idea" actually solves the problem. Since "great" ideas don't always work out in actual practice, this final step is vitally important to the success of any project.
We know that invention comes only in a person's field of specialization. Wallas is right when he says there must first be a Preparation stage: people have to become knowledgeable in some field before they may expect ideas to "dawn" on them in that area.
The more we know, the more apt we are to get new ideas; novel ideas seem to come from a fortunate scrambling of information we already have. And yet, although a certain threshold level of knowledge seems necessary for creativity, creative breakthroughs are not always the product of the most expert thinkers in a discipline.
Creativity and intelligence
There has been debate in the psychological literature about whether intelligence and creativity are part of the same process (the conjoint hypothesis) or represent distinct mental processes (the disjoint hypothesis). Evidence from attempts to look at correlations between intelligence and creativity from the 1950s onwards, by researchers regularly suggested that correlations between these concepts were low enough to justify treating them as distinct faculties of mind.
How to enhance creativity?
Acquire sufficient knowledge in the subject you are interested and think flexibly.

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